(Bloomberg) -- Olam Group Ltd.’s share price surged after it reported a marked improvement in its second-half performance, even as full-year profits plunged.

The agricultural trader said there was double-digit growth across the group in most metrics in the second half. Earnings rose 15.5% to S$230.8 million ($172 million) in the six months through December from a year earlier, Olam said in an exchange filing Wednesday.

The company’s share price jumped as much as 10% at the open in Singapore and was holding onto most of those gains as of mid-afternoon local time. Olam’s stock is still down by almost a half since the end of 2021 as it struggled with high borrowing costs and other challenges.

The trader — which is 51% owned by Singaporean state-owned investment company Temasek Holdings Pte — has repeatedly delayed a plan to float subsidiary Olam Agri, although it said Wednesday that it remained committed to listing the unit in Saudi Arabia. Olam also came under scrutiny last year after news reports that its business in Nigeria was involved in a multibillion dollar fraud and was being investigated by authorities there.  

Full-year net income plummeted 56% to S$278.7 million, with Olam blaming the result on high interest rates, which it said caused a significant increase of S$401.9 million in net finance costs. A 90% slump in profits in the first half was partially caused by lower crop yields from its almond orchards in Australia, it said in August.

The company had a “dramatic increase” in interest costs last year, which is why trading volumes rose but profits were lower, Olam Chief Executive Officer Sunny Verghese, said at a briefing following the results. Interest rates should come down in the latter part of 2024, he said.

Olam also announced that it’s launching a share buyback program for up to a maximum of 5% of total outstanding stock, with Verghese saying the group was undervalued. 

The reports of fraud in Nigeria in September pushed Olam’s shares to the lowest since 2005, although they subsequently bounced back. The company said this month that its own investigation had found no evidence to support the allegations. No charges have been brought against the subsidiaries nor any officers in Nigeria, with businesses operating normally, it said.

Read More: Olam Shuts Fund Management and Nut Sales Units in Restructuring

The trader said on Tuesday that it would close two units — an asset management company and a nut sales operation — in its latest move to restructure the business.

The Olam Agri IPO will not take place in the first half of this year as the regulatory framework is still being finalized in Saudi Arabia to enable the listing of foreign companies, Olam said on Wednesday. It remains committed to listing the unit in the kingdom, the company said.

(Updates with share price move in 3rd paragraph and quote from CEO in 6th paragraph.)

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